Six pm. The sun is setting. I've seen a lot of sunsets, but this one over lake Bled, Slovenia, is one of the best. The sky is a cloudless, vivid magenta against misty blue mountains and the castle in the hills up above. The lake is calm, aside from the swans and ducks circling closer for a chance at the dinner I brought with me.
Seven pm. I'm early. Aperativo happy hour doesn't start for another half an hour, and even I know that in a place as fashionable as Milan, being early gets you nowhere. So I head past the massive designer shops with billboard sized quietly of models doing things you only do if paid very well, and head into a park, watching the people and singing to myself to stay entertained. Soon it's buy one drink, get a free dinner buffet, and I've got about ten people who are coming to share it with. But not early.
Eight pm. Venice is a completely different animal at night from how it was in the day. We get lost. That's what you do here. In some ways, it's the best part. We wander past cracked and dirty facades that would be repulsive anywhere else, but here over moonlit canals and bridges are all nighttime charm and age. After the churches and past the gondalas, we find the square we were looking for and head towards the four glasses of fragolino strawberry wine, one for each of us, and the best thin pizza we've ever had in our lives.
Nine pm. Sometimes I wonder why I spend so much time just walking around. That's all it is when you think about it. Walking around. Ten pm. No purpose, nothing in mind. Sometimes I'll have a mission, but more often than not, I'll have a night where all I do is walk. Eleven pm. I realize why. All I have to do is look up. I am in Zagreb, Croatia. It's getting cold, and I'm leaving the bars behind. Just the old Austro-Hungarian facades air and smell of the Balkans. And salsa music.
The doorman makes a move as if to stop me, then smiles and waves me in. The latin music is pounding, several continents out of place. The low-ceilinged basement is lines with dancers. I haven't done this in a long time.
But the room is full of men. I need a partner. I go out to go back to my hostel, where I know I can find one. I don't know yet that by the time the two of us arrive, the place will have closed its doors, and we'll end up at basement bar sipping local beer and listening to a completely different tune, but it doesn't really matter, we still have a good time. Besides, what it comes down to, for me, was just another walk at night.
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